DC Universe’s Titans introduced a new character in the latest episode, ‘Donna Troy’. Here’s why we loved it!
Episode eight of Titans, introduced the fan-favourite DC Comics character Donna Troy. Donna has been teased on the show since episode two, ‘Hawk and Dove’, and fans have been waiting with bated breath for the character’s appearance. We can definitely say that the wait has been worth it.
It is always hard to adjust to new characters, especially when they’re introduced so late into a season, but Titans’Donna Troy is a breath of fresh air in this show and we can’t wait to see more of her. Here are five reasons we loved the episode, and its titular character. Spoilers ahead!
1 – Donna Troy
Titans has been overly dark and brooding, not to mention violent, with only a handful of lighter moments to undercut the heavy subjects portrayed on screen. Yes, we had the forced goofiness of Doom Patrol, and Jason Todd’s banter, but it all led to some horrible darkness and tragedy in the end.
With ‘Donny Troy’, Titans gives us a new character who is a hero on her own terms and is filled with the kind of light the show desperately needs. Titans’ Donna, beautifully brought to life by Conor Leslie, is vivacious, sarcastic, hard-working, and a believer in the good that heroes can do, in and out of their super-suits. After seven episodes of doom and gloom, Donna is a soothing balm on viewers’ tortured souls.
Unlike Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), who has spent this season being tormented by his Robin persona, to the point where he has become a kind of corrupted version of the Boy Wonder, Donna Troy has found another way to celebrate her superhero alter-ego, Wonder Girl, without having to don the suit. Whereas Dick had to burn his suit in episode seven, ‘Asylum’, as a final goodbye to Robin, Donna keeps hers in a closet. “Those things are expensive,” she claims. We love her already!
But, during the episode, Donna shows the audience just how much of a hero she is, not as Wonder Girl, but as Donna Troy. Through her work as an investigative journalist, she sets up a meeting with a poacher to help her bring down a large poaching operation. Even when her sting goes south, she finds a way to salvage the situation. Not without reminding Dick that sometimes you have to let the smaller villains go so you can get the bigger ones off the street.
It finally seems like the Titans, or at least Dick, can head to a better place, all because there are heroes like Donna in their world.
2 – The Other Side of Dick Grayson
Despite Brenton Thwaites’ best efforts, the Dick Grayson of Titans has been so unlike his comic book counterpart, he might as well have had a different name. But, with Donna, he is a changed man.
In the opening scene of the show, young Dick Grayson gets a pep talk from young Donna Troy after a mission ends with several people dying. Donna reminds Dick that no matter how hard things get, if the heroes quit, good people will get hurt, because the bad guys don’t take a day off. The subtlety with which she phrases it tells viewers exactly how compassionate and understanding this young woman is. It is no surprise that she grows up to be a war photographer, which is a great nod to Donna’s comic book counterpart. Her speech gives Dick the means to continue fighting, which he obviously did for many years, and it took Jason Todd’s violence to set Dick on the path to renouncing Robin.
By being beside Donna, the Dick we see in this season is a transformed man. He even takes the effort to make ‘small talk’, as instructed by Donna, when he goes to her gallery showing. Of course, he is terrible at it, but at least he tries!
Sadly, Titans’ Dick is often more screw-up than hero, and he ends up ruining Donna’s sting operation against the poachers. But at least his heart is in the right place and Donna is far more understanding a friend to Dick than anyone else has been. She even puts Dick’s struggle with Robin into perspective – that despite all the good that Robin did, he was ultimately “an echo chamber for Bruce’s pain” and for Dick’s. Plus, Donna manages to answer the question Dick has been asking himself the whole time – who is he? Is he Robin? Is he supposed to be Batman? No, he has to be something completely different. We know who that is!
3 – Name-Drops
Titans is set in its own version of the DC live-action universe, which is confusing and annoying for DC fans, but it also means that important DC characters, many with direct relations to the Titans’ characters, can’t appear on the show. However, much like the DC CW shows this year, Titans isn’t afraid of some name-dropping. We’ve heard about Bruce Wayne/ Batman, and even seen him in silhouette, and heard his voice; we have also heard Alfred Pennyworth on the phone to Dick.
In ‘Donna Troy’, we get a few more epic name-drops, including none other than Wonder Woman! Well, this was to be expected, considering Donna is Wonder Girl and was mentored by Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, but just the mention of her name, and Themyscira, home of the Amazons, adds so much depth to this universe.
But Wonder Woman isn’t the only one. There is also a full-fledged Justice League in the Titans universe, and apparently, they have meetings in Wayne Manor. I wonder if Superman is around?
Aside from these fleeting mentions of heroes, the villain Joker is said to have been wreaking havoc in Gotham. Joker had been mentioned as a joke (see what I did there?) in the premiere episode but his reported actions, and the fact that even Diana thinks he’s “scary”, tells the viewer all they need to know about how dangerous Robin’s, and Wonder Girl’s, upbringing really was. And, there’s a lovely little throwaway line, when Dick has failed to make small talk with a fellow gallery patron, where he wonders aloud what the Penguin might be doing. I love that Robin would rather face the Penguin than hang out in a gallery.
It isn’t just the mention of these names that expands the universe, though. Donna says a line of dialogue that sums up the ethos of the show, and why it’s been rooted in darkness until she came along. Donna tells Dick that “Wonder Woman was born to protect the innocent; Batman was created to punish the guilty”. That’s it, that’s the show. Titans has been all about punishing the bad guys – Dick has been going after the people who hurt others, instead of protecting those who can’t protect themselves. Hopefully now we will see a much more protective stance from the Titans.
We can’t expect to see the characters who were mentioned in this episode on Titans, and that is unfortunate, but even a mere inkling that these big names exist in the periphery of this show’s universe gives it more depth and richness. Long may it continue!
4 – Starfire Finds Herself
Anna Diop’s Kory Anders has been the best part of this show, by far. She is smart, witty, brave, has no qualms about killing people, and is incredibly protective of her team. She also knows how to get her way and have fun. Kory being incapacitated in ‘Asylum’ was a tough watch for several reasons but, as we see in this episode, the experience clearly jogged something in her memory.
Kory has flashbacks throughout the episode of herself on a spaceship, speaking an alien language. Dick even wakes up to her speaking out loud in said alien tongue in her sleep.
The flashbacks, and being tortured only a few days earlier, has Kory perturbed, and it doesn’t help that Dick takes off to meet Donna, leaving Kory in charge of the Titans and Rachel’s (Teagan Croft) mother, Angela (Rachel Nichols). Dick and Kory have been a team within the Titans, and though Kory is more than able to handle matters herself, it still sucks when a team splits up.
During their train journey to Angela’s house, Kory takes it much easier than we have seen her do in the past episodes, spending most of her time with Gar Logan (Ryan Potter), who is similarly struggling with having been tortured in the asylum. But, despite Kory’s weakened mental state, she is still able to pick up uncomfortable vibes from a stranger who shows more than a passing interest in her.
When Kory interrogates him, aggressively, he admits he simply found her attractive, making her doubt her instincts. Of course, Kory’s instincts were right all along. The man turns out to be a US Marshall, who calls a manhunt for Kory. Let’s just say it ends badly for him and everyone who comes to his aid. For everyone’s griping about Starfire’s special effects, her powers are quite stunning to behold.
However, it is through Donna that we learn about Kory’s identity. Donna deciphers the alien scripture in Kory’s warehouse, and learns that Kory is Starfire, who has been sent to Earth to kill the Raven, aka Rachel.
Only then does Kory ‘find’ herself. Rachel, in all her child-like wisdom, decides to use her powers to heal Kory, as she had done with Dr Adamson in the previous episode. As she does so, Kory finally regains her memory and lashes out at Rachel.
In the comics, Kory has a violent streak, but has never been a villain. We can assume that she will come to her senses in the next episode, especially as she has been Rachel’s closest ally thus far. But it is going to be touch and go for a while.
5 – Mothers and Daughters
If there is one thing that media featuring superheroes tends to leave out, it’s the relationship between mothers and daughters. There’s such a focus on fathers and sons in the genre, not to mention on male characters in general, that female relationships get cast aside.
‘Donna Troy’ gives us a heart-warming, and heart-rending, scene between Rachel and her mother, and it’s beautifully done for a show that has been heavy-handed in its discussions on parenting (we’re looking at you, Bruce).
From Rachel’s eagerness to learn everything about her mother’s few moments with her, to Angela breaking down her reasons for sending her daughter away, every beat in this scene develops these characters and their relationship with each other, all in an incredibly short span of time. It helps that Rachel Nichols is so convincing, and shares excellent chemistry with her on-screen child.
We also get an explanation as to who Melissa, the woman who was bringing Rachel up as her own, was. Angela didn’t give her daughter away to a stranger – Melissa was a very close friend who understood the danger Angela and Rachel were in from Rachel’s father, hence her agreeing to keep Rachel safe. It was, as expected, the hardest thing Angela had ever done but at least it meant that Rachel would grow up with a mother, even if Angela didn’t get to be with her child.
Another moment in this scene, that could easily be missed, is how Rachel changes the topic when Angela becomes too emotional. It’s one of those little things people do for their loved ones, and it shows some excellent direction.
And, doubling down on the fact that Rachel has found her ‘home’ with Angela, her soul-self, for once, doesn’t appear to warn her or tell her that Angela is lying.
I don’t expect Angela to be around very long in Titans, but I do hope that she and Rachel get to share some kind of bond that will help both characters heal. For a teenager, Rachel has been through the ringer on this show, and she really deserves a win.
I would prefer more screen-time be devoted to Rachel and Angela than the burgeouning ‘romance’ between Rachel and Gar. I am honestly disturbed at how much this show wants to put Gar and Rachel together. Teagan Croft is a child and Ryan Potter an adult, it’s illegal, no matter how you look at it. I sincerely hope the showrunners don’t push for this.
Titans has been steadily improving in quality and ‘Donna Troy’ was certainly a highlight. The injection of a new character with tons of comic history behind her made for a lighter tone. I am also excited about where Starfire’s arc is headed, especially now that she has discovered her identity.
I can’t wait to see Starfire and Donna together. In the comics, they were fast friends, and even roommates, and I hope that we will get to see a proper female friendship, without the nonsense of a love triangle.
As for Donna Troy, I hope she stays around for a long, long time. She is just what we need on Titans.